M-Formula

Indices : Concepts : M-formula

The M-formula document was a letter written by W.A. Dwiggins to C.H. Griffith at Mergenthaler Linotype on July 3, 1937. In it, he lists 4 "memoranda" or observations of then current type trends. The M in M-Fomula stands for "marionette," and refers to the principle in puppet making that explains that for the face of a marionette to "read" for viewers sitting far away, the would-be soft features must be translated as sharp planes -- "These sharp-cut planes, when viewed on the stage, by some magic transformed themselves into delicately rounded curves and subtle modellings; and the faces looked like young girls from clear across the room, as well as from the front benches." Dwiggins then goes on to explain that the curves and lines can be combined to impart a design with "dynamic grace."

Discussion:
Cut and then Curved

Additional Articles:
Kent Lew explains what is meant by the M-Formula
The M-Formula illustrated

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